Marie-Frédérique Bacqué

Coping with Death Publication date : October 1, 2003

The forms of social support that used to accompany the grieving process have ceased to function. Increasingly often in our society, the loss of a loved one entails loneliness, incomprehension and the disappearance of social solidarity. The resulting isolation explains why mourners frequently turn to support communities, such as associations, where feelings can be shared, or to mental health professionals. What can be done to limit society’s rejection of mourners, and to attenuate the psychological complications related to grieving? How can individuals be helped in the grieving process? How can they be helped to overcome grief and to envisage a new emotional commitment? Marie-Frédérique Bacqué shows how thinking through one’s loss — a process that depends on "memorialising" the loved one — requires the support of the social group, and, consequently, of re-establishing the social dimension of grief.

Two questions remain: How, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, does a reasonably developed society represent death? And what should such a society do to help individuals cope with loss?

Marie-Frédérique Bacqué, a psychologist, is a lecturer at the University of Lille and the vice president of the Society of Thanatology. She is the author of Living through bereavement, Mourning and Health and Dying Today, all three published by Editions Odile Jacob.